JERUSALEM: Israel’s spy agency Mossad has concluded eight Iranian Jews who had tried to emigrate to Israel in the 1990s were murdered en route, the prime minister’s office said on Friday.
The announcement came as Iran marked the Persian New Year, and as Israel chided Western powers for negotiating with the Jewish state’s arch-foe Tehran.
Mossad “has brought to a conclusion the affair regarding the Iranian Jews who have been missing since the 1990’s,” Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said in a statement.
“Eight of the 11 families of Iranian Jews who went missing in the 1990’s received notification from the Intelligence and Heritage Commemoration Center that their loved ones were murdered while en route to immigrating to Israel,” it said.
Netanyahu’s office gave no details of where the suspected murders were to have taken place, and did not directly point the finger at the Iranian government.
The statement came as Israel continued to criticize Western powers for negotiating with Iran over its nuclear programme, which the West alleges is aimed at building an atomic bomb — a charge Tehran denies.
Israel’s Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon on Tuesday charged that while the world powers know Iran “cheats,” Westerners “prefer to put off confrontation, if possible to next year, or the next president.”
Israel has refused to rule out a unilateral military strike against Iran.
And Israel last week intercepted a ship it said was carrying Iranian weapons to the Gaza Strip, in a highly-publicized media campaign.